The lessons from the past that can help to shape Bradford City’s future

Photo: Claire Epton © Bradford City

By John Dewhirst

Five years ago whilst researching my book A HISTORY OF BCAFC IN OBJECTS it dawned on me that a lot of what had previously been written or said about the history of Bradford City AFC and its predecessor, Manningham FC was either grossly simplistic, misleading or simply incorrect. The legend of Park Avenue and the story of the original Bradford Football Club was equally distorted.

In common with other sports clubs, the history of Bradford City was ‘owned’ by journalists who collated the statistics and possessed the historical knowledge. Indeed, they could choose what to write about or what to ignore. Subsequent generations have read those newspaper reports at face value and made simplistic interpretations. All told the history had become confused and misleading.

In the process some of the basics were forgotten. Why the club wears claret and amber. How it came to play at Valley Parade. How rugby came to be abandoned. Why rugby was played in the first place. Why Bradford City became known as the bantams. Generations of Bradfordians grew up with an instilled bias for City or Avenue but the origins of the rivalry were never truly explained. Things became taken for granted, unquestioned. Despite the fact that the city’s football clubs became important local institutions and were a big part of peoples’ lives, the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ had been forgotten and overlooked.

This prompted a personal objective to publish a series of books to debunk the myths and superficial narratives that have been told about the origins and history of sport and professional football in Bradford. The principles behind the HISTORY REVISITED series are straightforward, to provide an historical record for posterity that is unblemished by political bias, lazy scholarship or inaccuracies. It is our shared history and one that needs to be told objectively and in full.

The fifth volume in the BANTAMSPAST HISTORY REVISITED series is Jason McKeown’s book, WHO WE ARE: EXPLORING THE DNA OF BRADFORD CITY and if anyone is looking for a Christmas present for a City supporter, I can’t think of anything better. Having assisted him with proof-reading I can genuinely say that this promises to be a great publication and one that is also incredibly timely.

To my knowledge no-one has previously attempted to get under the skin of a football club and explain what it stands for. To connect its history with the modern day and recognise the fact that even in the modern world, Bradford City AFC is a prisoner of its history.

Through examination of key themes from the club’s history, Jason helps make sense of what the club is today. Publication is all the more timely for the fact that supporters are asking what the club stands for or indeed, expressing opinions about what it should stand for.

What is quite remarkable is that Jason has unearthed a general consensus of opinion among supporters and club personalities as to what constitutes the essence of Bradford City. It is fascinating reading that also provides a blueprint for getting the club back on its feet and reviving bantam progressivism.

Based on the experience of schooldays many have an aversion to history. The way that Jason tackles the history of the club is not by regurgitating statistics and dates but by asking the more fundamental questions of how and why Bradford City is what it is. As a football book the output is highly engaging, original and thought-provoking and it deserves as wide a readership as possible. I would also argue that anyone with an emotional commitment to Bradford City should read the book as a primer to help shape the future of the club.  All told I believe that it will be one of the most significant books to have ever been written about Bradford City AFC.

We want to encourage sales of the book to allow as many people as possible to take part in a bigger debate and to have a better understanding of our inheritance at Valley Parade. I believe that WHO WE ARE deserves to be successful because of its sheer originality. Jason also deserves considerable recognition for his efforts.

Please note that the HISTORY REVISITED series is self-published. Financial budgets are set on the basis of achieving break-even rather than profit which means that wherever possible content does not have to be sacrificed to satisfy a publisher’s targets. In so doing we have the freedom to publish what we want rather than comply with inflexible formats. If any profits are made they will be donated to the Burns Unit.

For details of WHO WE ARE and how to order the hard cover subscriber edition visit the Bantams Past website or click here for an order form that can be emailed or posted. On Bantams Past you can also read more about the HISTORY REVISITED project.

Subscribers get their names printed in the book so it is an ideal present. The deadline for subscribers is 5th October.

Categories: Opinion

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1 reply

  1. Looking forward to reading my subscriber copy. I always enjoy reading Jason’s words of wisdom.

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